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An Ecclesiastical History To The 20th Year Of The Reign Of Constantine by Eusebius

FIRST, then, in the place of Judas the traitor, Matthias was chosen by lot, who, as was shown above, was also one of the disciples of the Lord. There were appointed also, with prayer and the imposition of hands, by the apostles, approved men, unto the office of deacons, for the public service; these were those seven of whom Stephen was one. He was the first, also, after our Lord, who at the time of ordination, as if ordained to this very purpose, was stoned to death by the murderers of the Lord. And thus he first received the crown, answering to his name, of the victorious martyrs of Christ. Then also James, called the brother of our Lord, because he is also called the son of Joseph. For Joseph was esteemed the father of Christ, because the Virgin being betrothed to him, “she was found with child by the Holy Ghost before they came together,” as the narrative of the holy gospels shows. This James, therefore, whom the ancients, on account of the excellence of his virtue, surnamed the Just, was the first that received the episcopate of the church at Jerusalem. But Clement, in the sixth book of his Institutions, represents it thus: “Peter, and James, and John, after the ascension of our Saviour, though they had been preferred by our Lord, did not contend for the honour, but chose James the Just as bishop of Jerusalem.” And the same author, in the seventh book of the same work, writes also thus: “The Lord imparted the gift of knowledge to James the Just, to John and Peter after his resurrection, these delivered it to the rest of the apostles, and they to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one.” There were, however, two Jameses; one called the Just, who was thrown from a wing of the temple, and beaten to death with a fuller’s club, and another, who was beheaded. Paul also makes mention of the Just in his epistles. “But other of the apostles,” says he, “saw I none, save James the brother of our Lord.” About this time also, the circumstances of our Saviour’s promise, in reference to the king of the Osrhoenians, took place. For Thomas, under a divine impulse, sent Thaddeus as herald and evangelist, to proclaim the doctrine of Christ, as we have shown from the public documents found there.

When he came to these places, he both healed Agbarus by the word of Christ, and astonished all there with the extraordinary miracles he performed. After having sufficiently disposed them by his works, and led them to adore the power of Christ, he made them disciples of the Saviour’s doctrine. And even to this day, the whole city of Edessa is devoted to the name of Christ; exhibiting no common evidence of the beneficence of our Saviour likewise to them. And let this suffice, as taken from the accounts given in ancient documents. Let us now pass again to the Holy Scriptures. As the first and greatest persecution arose among the Jews after the martyrdom of Stephen, against the church of Jerusalem, and all the disciples except the twelve were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria; some, as the Holy Scriptures say, coming as far as Phœnice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, they were not yet in a situation to venture to impart the faith to the nations, and therefore only announced it to the Jews. During this time, Paul also was yet laying waste the church, entering the houses of the believers, dragging away men and women, and delivering them over to prison. Philip, also, one of those who had been ordained to the office of deacons, being among those scattered abroad, went down to Samaria. Filled with divine power, he first proclaimed the divine word to the inhabitants of that place. But so greatly did the divine grace co-operate with him, that even Simon Magus, with a great number of other men, were attracted by his discourses. Simon had become so celebrated at that time, and had such influence with those that were deceived by his impostures, that they considered him the great power of God. This same Simon, also, astonished at the extraordinary miracles performed by Philip through the power of God, artfully assumed, and even pretended faith in Christ, so far as to be baptized; and what is surprising, the same thing is done even to this day, by those who adopt this most foul heresy. These, after the manner of their founder, insinuating themselves into the church, like a pestilential and leprous disease, infected those with the greatest corruption, into whom they were able to infuse their secret, irremediable, and destructive poison. Many of these, indeed, have already been expelled, when they were caught in their wickedness; as Simon himself, when detected by Peter, suffered his deserved punishment. For as the annunciation of the Saviour’s gospel was daily advancing, by a certain divine providence, a prince of the queen of the Ethiopians, as it is a custom that still prevails there to be governed by a female, was brought thither, and was the first of the Gentiles that received of the mysteries of the divine word from Philip. The apostle, led by a vision, thus instructed him; and he becoming the first fruits of believers throughout the world, is said to have been the first, on returning to his country, that proclaimed the knowledge of God, and the salutary abode of our Saviour among men. So that, in fact, the prophecy obtained its fulfilment through him: “Ethiopia stretched forth her hands unto God.” After this, Paul, that chosen vessel, not of men, nor through men, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ himself, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead, is appointed an apostle, being honoured with the call by a vision and voice of revelation from heaven.








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